Why Consider the History of Yoga
Yoga is on the increase!
In its myriad forms, yoga is more popular than ever and it certainly isn't showing any signs of slowing its pace of expansion...
The formation of the Indian Govermental department of AYUSH with a focusing on restoring and promoting systems of Yoga, Ayurveda and traditional Indian Medicine, alongside the instatement of an Internal Yoga Day on the summer solstice of each year from its start in 2015 and the huge rallies that accompanied it worldwide are only a testament to that global quality with Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating;
“Yoga is an invaluable gift of india’s Ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and nature.”
However as the popularity of Yoga expands rapidly, and in increasingly divergent circles, it is claimed by many that Yoga has 'lost its way', or indeed that the so called 'Yoga Industrial Complex' has simply gone too far and that there is a need to return to something 'original' and 'authentic'. But what is that? And perhaps more importantly... where would go to find it?
Perhaps even more importantly Yoga is, and has always been a lineage based transmission, wherein acknowledgment of ones sources and teachers forms a key principle.
The resurgence of Yoga as an academic discipline in the West (rather than purely a practical one), is slowly beginning to bring some clarity to the discussion and bridge the gaps in understanding cross and inter culturally. The information presented in this course comes from that tradition and the inspired work of scholar-practitioners such as James Mallinson, Christopher Wallis, Seth Powell and many more; all who create a sizeable chunk of your reading list! Their work cover the fields primarily of anthropology (the study of culture) and religious studies.
It is important to note here, that this field has emerged recently, and much work is still ongoing, with exciting new uncoverings happening regularly. As a result I will endeavour to keep this course up to date, but will also point to many other resources in a later section that will allow you to tap directly into those fields of discourse.